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Posts tagged ‘James Baker’

James Baker: Ukraine Crisis is New Cold War.

The crisis in Ukraine has the potential for spiraling out of control and could lead to “serious problems in the heart of Europe,” says former Secretary of State James Baker.

“It is clearly the most serious East-West confrontation since the end of the Cold War,” Baker said Sunday on “Meet the Press.”

“For someone who was the last U.S. secretary of state during the Cold War, it’s very disappointing to me to see that we’re moving now from cooperation with Russia to confrontation again.”

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Baker was secretary of state for President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1992.

Baker said he has no substantial disagreement with the way the Obama administration has handled Russia’s invasion of Ukraine so far, but added, “I’m not sure that all of this would have happened had we stuck with our red lines.”

Many Republicans have blamed President Barack Obama’s waffling over a “red line” he set with Syria over use of chemical weapons. When it was revealed last year the Bashar Assad regime had used the weapons on Syrian civilians, Obama first promised action, then went to Congress and allies.

Both Congress and the United Kingdom balked at backing an attack, and the situation was resolved only after Russian President Vladimir Putin offered to monitor Syria’s elimination of its chemical weapons stockpile.

Baker said he doesn’t agree with those who think Putin sees Obama as weak after that confrontation. But he does think Putin sees Obama as inconsistent.

Baker said he hopes a diplomatic solution can be reached because he thinks there’s no good endgame for the Russian Federation.

The risks are “very substantial,” Baker said, of the situation turning into more than a “small new Cold War, which I think we are pretty much in right now. I look at this as a Cold War lite.”
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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Greg Richter

James Baker: ‘I’m Certain’ Reagan Regretted Vetoing Anti-Apartheid Act.

President Ronald Reagan‘s veto of the Anti-Apartheid Act in 1986 was likely something he later regretted, his former chief of staff James Baker said Sunday on “Face the Nation.” 

Congress overrode the veto, and sanctions were placed on South Africa for its policy of racial segregation. Reagan had imposed his own set of sanctions against the government, but members of Congress felt they were not strong enough and weren’t having an effect.

In 1990, as President George H.W. Bush‘s secretary of State, Baker met with Nelson Mandela three weeks after his release from a 27-year prison sentence for his actions against the white minority government.

“I was really amazed at the soft-spokenness of this man, of the conviction of this man, at the dignity of this man,” Baker said. “I have always felt that this was an extraordinarily beautiful human being who became, of course, an icon of freedom, of human rights and of reconciliation. How many people forgive their captors when they’ve been kept in prison for 27 years?”

Mandela went on to become South Africa’s first democratically elected black president. He died Thursday at age 95.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Greg Richter

Reagan’s Chief of Staff: To End Shutdown Obama Must Lead.

Image: Reagan's Chief of Staff: To End Shutdown Obama Must Lead

By Lisa Furgison

Political gridlock over Obamacare is not the real cause of the federal government shutdown, it’s the president’s lack of leadership, Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff James Baker says.

“It’s a failure of leadership to say, ‘I’m just gonna sit here while the government remains closed,’ or, with respect to the debt limit, ‘I’ll sit here and not negotiate and the catastrophic consequences I warned you of will just have to happen,'” Baker tells Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan.

Baker, who was secretary of state, secretary of Treasury and White House chief of staff under Reagan and George H.W. Bush was in office for eight of the 17 government shutdowns that have occurred since 1976.

He says the only way for Obama to turn things around is to pick up the phone, call House Speaker John Boehner and “start resolving” the problem.

“When a president doesn’t control both sides of Congress he has to deal with the other party,” Baker tells Noonan. “Resolve this thing by getting into a room and making the government work. The leader of our government should be willing to get into a room and sit down with the opposition.”

Baker says negotiation is the key to politics, something he learned while watching Reagan battle a Democratic house throughout both terms of his presidency.

“Those days were bitter, but we got into a room and we thrashed it out,” he said. “We worked it out, each side gave a little, and we got the government working.”

Baker isn’t the only Republican who believes Obama’s lackluster leadership abilities are key: both New Jersey Governor Chris Christie  and Republican Strategist Karl Rove  have said the same.

While Baker says lack of leadership is the crux of Washington’s problems, he says his own party isn’t in the clear.

“I don’t think it was a very wise strategy for we Republicans to say we would not fund the government unless we defunded Obamacare,” he said. “I don’t think that’s a smart political strategy, and I think we’ll pay a price for it. . . . If you’re gonna make your stand, make your stand on something you can accomplish.”

Still, Baker believes a compromise can be reached. “You can’t lead through obstinacy and political calculation,” he said. Reagan did what was needed to get the job done, he added, that’s what needs to happen now.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Students Called ‘N-Word,’ Threatened in Field Trip Slavery Re-Enactment, Parents Claim.

Sandra Baker
Sandra Baker and her husband say their daughter was called the ‘N-word’ during a slavery re-enactment activity at Nature’s Classroom. (WFSB)

The director of an educational program in Massachusetts has responded to the parents of a Hartford, Conn., student who claims she was called the “N-word” during a slavery re-enactment activity.

Seventh-graders at Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy took a four-day trip last fall to Nature’s Classroom, in which they participated in an Underground Railroad activity. Sandra and James Baker say their 12-year-old daughter was terrorized by staff during the re-enactment.

“They intentionally terrorized them and abused them on this field trip,” Sandra Baker said in a WFSB report. “It’s child abuse as far as I’m concerned.”

James Baker told the board of education what his daughter told him, which was, “The instructor told me to run and they would whip me until I bled on the floor, and then either cut my Achilles so I couldn’t run again or hang me.”

Nature’s Classroom on Friday responded to the accusations, saying the Underground Railroad activity has been offered for the last 20 years, and “almost 200 schools see it as a valuable extension of their classroom lessons, and request it as one of their many activities” in a statement posted on its websiteand Facebook page.

Executive Director John G. Santos explained in the statement, “During the Underground Railroad activity, we ask students to step into the role of an enslaved African trying to escape on the Underground Railroad. Teachers, administrators and parents from the students’ school act as conductors.

“Our goal is to introduce students to some of the complexities and difficulties surrounding slavery, understand the courage it took to run, the courage it took to assist those running, and to draw connection between discrimination and prejudice then and discrimination and prejudice today.”

Santos went on, “We were shocked to hear some of the comments included in the complaint. Nature’s Classroom does not condone the use of the n-word. We would have taken immediate disciplinary action, including dismissal, had we known of this concern.”

Santos concluded the statement with an apology.

“If this complaint does turn out to be valid, we offer our sincerest apologies for the comments made,” he said. “Our intention is to empower students to be positive leaders in the face of discrimination, prejudice and bullying in their own lives today. The reaction of this particular child and her family are clearly not in line with our goals for the activity, and we are deeply sorry that this was their experience.”

In addition to the Underground Railroad activity, the Bakers say their daughter and other students were packed together in a dark room to simulate a slave ship. Sandra Baker says the school had not informed parents of the activity beforehand.

The Bakers have since taken their daughter from the school district and have filed complaints with the Department of Education, the Human Rights Commission and offices of civil rights.



Odds Strong on GOP Keeping House Control in 2014.

Image: Odds Strong on GOP Keeping House Control in 2014

By John Gizzi

For all the reports of national Democrats drawing targets on enough Republican-held seats to recapture control of the House in 2014, the odds are strong that Republicans will hold on to their majority in the last mid-term election of the Obama administration.

The arithmetic favors the Republicans in the upcoming campaign, in which voters decide the fate of all 435 House members.

The current make-up of the House is 233 Republicans, 200 Democrats, and two vacancies. Upcoming special elections to fill the vacancies in Alabama and Massachusetts will almost give one seat to each party.

Democratic strategists frequently speak of “the magic 17” —the number of districts carried by President Barack Obama in 2012 in which voters also sent a Republican to the House. Victories in all 17 districts by Democratic candidates would mean a recapture of the Democratic majority in the House, with 218 seats to 217 for the Republicans.

In a memo marked “Please Do Not Share This List With the Press” but obtained by Roll Call last week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee named the 17 Republican-held seats they are targeting. Among those on the list were such narrow 2012 winners as Republican Reps. Mike Coffman of Colorado, Lee Terry of Nebraska, and Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.

But this strategy depends on Democrats winning everything they target and Republicans picking up nothing. That means, as House editor David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report said, “There’s basically no margin of error for House Democrats.”

On the other hand, Republicans will almost surely be targeting the nine districts that went for Mitt Romney for president but also sent a Democrat to the House.

These include the two closest races in the nation last year: North Carolina’s 7th District and Arizona’s 2nd, in which Republicans David Rouzer and Martha McSally will square off in rematches with Democratic Reps. Mike McIntyre and Ron Barber.

Widely considered the most vulnerable Democratic-held district in the nation is Florida’s 18th District, where 30-year-old Democrat Patrick Murphy edged out swashbuckling conservative Allen West, by less than 2000 votes. Already four Republicans have filed for the chance to oppose Murphy in 2014.

Even though Murphy has voted “the right way” in conservative eyes by supporting delays in the Obamacare mandate for both businesses and individuals, his vote against repeal of Obamacare is expected to be a major issue for any Republican opponent.

Although the Republican primary is likely to grow more crowded because of the perceived vulnerability of the incumbent, the early favorite is Carl Domino, former assistant state house GOP leader, successful investments adviser, and U.S. Navy veteran.

For open seats, there is always greater competition and more “switcheroos” than attempting to dislodge incumbents. So far, there are 14 seats with no incumbents — five Democratic-held seats and nine Republican-held seats.

The West Virginia seat that Republican Shelley Moore Capito is leaving to run for the Senate could go Democratic, and the Iowa seat Democrat Bruce Braley is giving up for a Senate run could go the other way. For now, few of the other 12 are likely to flip.

Former Secretary of State James Baker once said “overnight is an eternity in politics.” Much can change between now and November of 2014. But at this time, the best prediction is the House remains Republican next year — just do the math.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Obama Draws Criticism for Thatcher Funeral Snub.

President Barack Obama’s failure to send any top officials of his administration to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s funeral Wednesday sparked some heated criticism.

Politico catalogued negative comments from a variety of sources.

A New York Post editorial was unimpressed with the U.S. delegation, headed by former secretaries of state George Schultz and James Baker.

“As the world bids farewell to Lady Margaret Thatcher today, it’s hard not to notice that America’s official presence at the state funeral for England’s most significant prime minister since Winston Churchill will be underwhelming,” the Post editorial read.

“Instead of sending a high-ranking member of his own administration to lead the official delegation, President Obama has dispatched two former Republican secretaries of state, George Shultz and Jim Baker. Nothing against these men, but we can forgive the British for regarding Obama’s choice as yet another snub.”

Editor’s Note: Should ObamaCare Be Repealed? Vote in Urgent National Poll 

Breitbart’s Debra Heine noted that Obama offered Thatcher high praise when she died last week.

“But actions (and inactions) speak louder than words,” she wrote. “Obama did send an official delegation to Caracas to attend last month’s funeral for the deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.”

Thatcher ally and Member of Parliament Liam Fox had similar feelings.

“I think it would be both surprising and disappointing if after President Obama’s fulsome tribute to Lady Thatcher, the American administration did not send a senior serving member to represent them,” he told the London Daily Mail.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Schultz, Baker to Lead US Delegation at Thatcher Funeral.

President Barack Obama is sending two high-level Reagan-era officials to head the U.S. delegation at the funeral of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the White House said on Monday.

George Schultz, a secretary of state for Republican President Ronald Reagan, and James Baker, who had a number of senior roles in both the Reagan and George H.W. Bush presidencies, will lead the U.S. delegation at the funeral in London on Wednesday, the White House said.

There were no reported plans by any of the former U.S. presidents, or for current Vice President Joe Biden, to travel to Britain for the funeral.

Rounding out the U.S. delegation were Barbara Stephenson, charge d’affaires to Britain and Northern Ireland, and Louis Susman, former U.S. ambassador to Britain.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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